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March 13, 2014

N.H. House votes to repeal death penalty

New Hampshire Senate will consider it next

CONCORD — The New Hampshire House voted yesterday to repeal the death penalty, 225-104.

“If we let those who kill turn us into killers, then evil triumphs,” said Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, the bill’s prime sponsor. “The time to repeal it is now.”

Cushing’s own father and brother-in-law were murdered.

He acknowledged the difficulty of the repeal debate, saying people on both sides of the issue are sincere in their beliefs.

But nothing will change the past, even the death penalty, Cushing said.

“Murder is not very good,” he said.

Rep. John Cebrowski, R-Bedford, told lawmakers that murderers are more deserving of a life in prison.

“You’re never, ever off the hook,” Cebrowski said. “Death is an escape; prison is not.”

Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, D-Concord, made an economic argument for repeal.

The expense to the state from the death penalty case of police officer killer Michael Addison already has cost $5 million and could total $10 million, compared to a $35,000 annual expense from incarceration, she said.

“Is this the best use of taxpayer dollars?” Wallner asked.

Others argued against repeal.

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said it would remove a deterrent to crime.

“We’re going to protect murderers,” he said.

Rep. Keith Murphy, R-Bedford, asked the House to expand, not abolish the death penalty.

Murphy would have added child killers to the list of those eligible for capital punishment in New Hampshire.

Monsters exist, Murphy said.

“Justice demands it,” he said.

Rep. Frank Sapareto, R-Derry, supported Murphy’s amendment.

“Monsters who kill young children should never be allowed to kill again,” Sapareto said.

But the House rejected expansion, 247-83.

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, offered an amendment that would have allowed retroactive repeal, letting the state confine Addison to prison for life, rather than send him to his death.

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